You’re in Vegas, baby. Well, five or so miles from the Strip, which is close enough to take advantage of a lot of what Sin City has to offer. What’s your vice? Gluttony? Gambling? Sloth? Shopping sprees? Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport (Airport code: LAS) can indulge it. Here’s our guide to what’s fun and relaxing in the two terminals (strangely numbered 1 and 3, with no 2) that make up the gateway to Las Vegas.
Whatever you’re in the mood for, you can probably get it quickly at LAS. Both Terminals have a Pei Wei Asian Diner location; it’s a tasty and healthful way to satisfy a pan-Asian craving. For a more Mediterranean feel, try Flatbreadz (pictured)—Terminal 1 has two locations, both serving pizzas and sandwiches. If you’re interested in something a little healthier—and in Vegas, it’s good to do your body a favor once in a while—there are three Fresh Attractions locations in Terminal 1 where you can pick up salads and fruit plates to go.
So you’ve got a little time to kill at the airport. This is Vegas, so you could while away the hours putting quarters into a slot machine. Or, drop your money on a sure bet: one of two decent full-service restaurants at LAS. Sammy's Woodfired Pizza & Grill (pictured) in Terminal 1 is the less expensive of the two, but having your food brought to you by a waiter always feels elegant at an airport. Linger over a pint if you’ve got the time. In Terminal 3, the Las Vegas Chophouse & Brewery offers the full steakhouse experience, baked potato and gravy boat and all.
It does make sense that the gateway to Sin City would have plenty of houses of temptation. We dare you to walk past a Mrs. Fields without nibbling. There are two in Terminal 1. On the creamier side, Red Mango, also in Terminal 1, serves all-natural frozen yogurt and smoothies, which in this part of the world practically qualifies as health food. For a sinful experience you can linger over, make your way to Ruby’s Diner (pictured; Terminal 1 again) for an all-American slice of apple pie. (Yes, you want that à la mode.) If you’ve got a little time in Terminal 3, sit down at the Village Pub for the dessert menu describes as “That Really Big Ice Cream Chocolate Brownie Thing.” We couldn’t have said it any better.
For a major airport in a city famous for keeping people up at all hours, McCarran International Airport has surprisingly pedestrian coffee offerings. If you want to avoid the big chains (as with most airports, there’s a Starbucks or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, pictured, everywhere you turn), try a bagel place. After all, who does coffee better than a breakfast spot? Best bets are The Great American Bagel & Bakery and Einstein Bros. Bagels, both in Terminal 1.
Drinking options are almost as plentiful here as in the city of Las Vegas proper. Crafted, in Terminal 1 is a favorite of Vegas travelers. It’s in a quiet corner that allows you to recharge from your trip in more ways than one: Every seat has an electrical outlet for powering up gadgets. Nearby and slightly more boisterous is Corcoran’s Irish Pub, with all the beer and Celtic music you’d expect. A similar vibe is found at Village Pub (pictured) in Terminal 3. They’ve got great pub grub like fish and chips, and it’s family owned so you don’t feel like you’re at a soulless chain. The same goes at Terminal 3’s The Local, where every effort is made to make you feel like a regular. They’ve got a full bar, and some decent food offerings to cushion the blow.
You may have seen XpresSpas at other airports—we’re not going to pretend that this is unique to McCarran. But after a trip to Las Vegas, you just may need an airport cleansing and detoxifying treatment more than you usually do. They offer all the services you might expect an upscale spa, but tailored to travelers—think extra moisturizing, extra attention to baggage-bearing hands and arms, and appointments available in increments as short as 10 minutes--perfect for the rushed traveler.
There’s something about Vegas that makes people part with their money. You may find yourself craving souvenirs even if you’re just passing through. McCarran International Airport has a few fun places to shop for distinctive souvenirs. Ethel M. Chocolates has locations in both terminals. This beloved company is based in nearby Henderson, NV, so it’s a true local treat. For something even more unique to Vegas, stop by Poker Face (pictured). There are two locations in Terminal 1. Here you can have customized poker chips made, the better for catching a lucky streak during your home poker nights.
You may want to consider bringing an extra suitcase with you if you travel through LAS because you actually might pick up a new suit here. Brooks Brothers is just one of the upscale national brands that has an outpost at the airport. The lineup also includes, Coach (pictured), MAC, and Michael Kors. If you need some expensive new gadgets at home, Bose, Brookstone, and others can set you up. McCarran International Airport is also one of the best airports to be in if you realize you’ve left something important behind. Best Buy Express vending machines (there’s one on every concourse of each Terminal) specialize in media players, headphones, cameras, and other travel essentials. Forget a toiletry item? The 3FLOZ kiosk in Terminal 1 can find you replacement shampoos, soaps, moisturizers, and more, all sold in TSA-approved 3-ounce containers.
Everyone knows Las Vegas is for gambling, but not everyone realizes that you don’t even have to leave the airport to start testing your luck. Poker and blackjack will have to wait until you get closer to the Strip, but the airport offers about 1,300 slot machines for your gaming enjoyment. They’re everywhere, including at baggage claim and in the rental-car center. (Hey, you have to finance those upgrades and insurance fees somehow.)